On 24th October, the Feminist Society held their first monthly Book Club for this year. The novel discussed was the brilliantly electric and controversial The Power by Naomi Alderman. Winner of the prestigious 2017 Baileys Women’s Fiction of the Year Award. This novel instigates an important dialogue about gender and socio-political inequalities within a contemporary dystopian world. A physical, electrical power is awakened in millions of women, yet instead of female world domination, Alderman explores the complications of the innate hierarchy and hunger for power that exists amongst humankind.
The Power follows four protagonists, delving into multiple genres of action, thriller, and science fiction. The narratives are intricately woven and subtly come together as these women rise to political influence and power, as well as the male reporter Tunde who gains the unique trust to follow the women’s uprisings and emphasises to the reader the story’s flipped gender inequalities. One radical male activist reports to Tunde that “we need laws now to protect men. We need men to stand up and be counted”: this irony enraging all supporters of today’s women’s movement. Alderman pays specific interest to the historical exploitation and oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and Moldova, though one criticism is that she neglects to address many other genders, cultures or religious groups. It would be fascinating to read a parallel novel that addressed the consequences of this supernatural change in less-reported parts of the world.
As Alderman’s fourth novel, it is an inevitable modern classic with something for every reader. The narrators are engaging and sometimes shockingly graphic – but extremely addictive. The novel is set to become a long-running TV series co-produced by the makers of Broadchurch and Alderman herself, and I cannot wait to be treated to more of her dystopian world.